Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-34854 November 20, 1978
FORTUNATO R. PAMIL, petitioner-appellant,
HONORABLE VICTORINO C. TELERON, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bohol, Branch III, and REV. FR. MARGARITO R. GONZAGA, respondents-appellees.
Urbano H. Lagunay for petitioner.
Cristeto O. Cimagala for respondents.
The novel question raised in this certiorari proceeding concerns the eligibility of an ecclesiastic to an elective municipal position. Private respondent, Father Margarito R. Gonzaga, was, in 1971, elected to the position of municipal mayor of Alburquerque, Bohol. 1 Therefore, he was duly proclaimed. A suit for quo warranto was then filed by petitioner, himself an aspirant for the office, for his disqualification 2 based on this Administrative Code provision: “In no case shall there be elected or appointed to a municipal office ecclesiastics, soldiers in active service, persons receiving salaries or compensation from provincial or national funds, or contractors for public works of the municipality.” 3 The suit did not prosper, respondent Judge sustaining the right of Father Gonzaga to the office of municipal mayor. He ruled that such statutory ineligibility was impliedly repealed by the Election Code of 1971. The matter was then elevated to this Tribunal by petitioner. It is his contention that there was no such implied repeal, that it is still in full force and effect. Thus was the specific question raised.
There is no clear-cut answer from this Tribunal. After a lengthy and protracted deliberation, the Court is divided on the issue. Seven members of the Court are of the view that the judgment should be affirmed as the challenged provision is no longer operative either because it was superseded by the 1935 Constitution or repealed. Outside of the writer of this opinion, six other Justices are of this mind They are Justices Teehankee, Muñoz Palma Concepcion Jr., Santos, Fernandez, and Guerrero. For them, the overriding principle of the supremacy of the Constitution or, at the very least, the repeal of such provision bars a reversal. 4 The remaining five members of this Court, Chief Justice Castro, Justices Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, and Aquino, on the other hand, hold the position that such a prohibition against an ecclesiastic running for elective office is not tainted with any constitutional infirmity.